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How to stay innovative whilst experiencing scaleup growth

Peter Stojanovic

A scaleup's main challenge is to record exciting growth figures whilst retaining their innovative, startup heart. Clear Returns CEO Vicky Brock explains how she keeps the balance.

Once you’re confirmed as an established startup your aims and priorities start to transition to that of a scaleup.

With that evolution however, there are certain scaleup innovation challenges that need your attention.

Instead of concentrating on your product, service and/or market as a startup, it’s time to trust your research and focus on (rapid) expansion and growth for your investors.

That growth however can be a poisoned chalice.

The larger your company becomes the less nimble it finds itself.

So how can you keep growing but still retain that innovative streak that allowed you to be successful in the first place?

According to Vicky Brock, CEO of Clear Returns, addressing her scaleup innovation challenges means balancing viewpoints.

“You can still be nimble as a scale up – you just have to look at it differently.”

Clear Returns identifies the causes of sales returns using data analysis and a combination of product and customer modelling.

It was an area which lacked understanding before Brock and her team approached the problem but since conception, Clear Returns has won numerous awards for its service and is now experiencing triple figure growth.

According to Brock, facing scaleup innovation challenges requires a healthy mix of testers and replicators.

“Some people in my team are product innovators, my R&D team, they are the people obsessed about market fit, the problem solvers – they all fiddle with things to make things better or come up with a completely different way of doing it.”

They’re the founding team, the testers.

“You also have to build out a service delivery team, executors who roll out those products, a finisher-completer to round off the capabilities.”

That transition from innovators to executors is typical of the changes a company undergoes as it grows.

However, a further challenge is optimizing how those roles interact together and forming the structure of your company – do you host a hierarchy or a matrix structure, for example?

Brock sums up the overarching issue.

“The dreaded ‘P’ of process creeps its way in and has to be there for the wheels to keep turning.”